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UN closely involved in efforts to ease political tensions in Madagascar

10 March 2009 – The United Nations is closely involved with efforts to resolve the political crisis in Madagascar peacefully, the world body said today.

President Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina, the mayor of the capital, Anatananarivo, declared last month that they are committed to start a UN-facilitated dialogue. Nearly 100 people were killed and many more injured in violence that erupted recently amid their dispute.

Spokesperson Marie Okabe said today that the world body is working in tandem with the international community, “including in support of efforts being made collectively to ensure the safety of persons involved,” towards settling the problem in the Indian Ocean island nation.

She noted that the top UN advisor on the ground, Tiébilé Dramé of Mali, is in contact with the parties, the mediation efforts and diplomats.

Assistant Secretary-General Haile Menkerios, who has been dispatched to Madagascar twice, told UN Radio yesterday that his advice to the sides was that “a peaceful solution is the best and that they can reach it through dialogue.”

He said that the first instalment of the negotiations entails the president and the mayor’s camps reaching agreement on how to stabilize the situation. The next phase – drawing in an expanded group including representatives of other political parties, civil society, youth women and others – would be geared towards tackling root causes, including “problems of governance on a wider scale – political, economic and social.”

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